Poverty affects about 32% of the population in Latin America, according to the Social Panorama 2022 report. Established in 2003, Maximo Nivel is a leading study abroad and educational travel organization that also helps to end poverty in Latin America. Through its volunteer-based community projects, developing communities in Costa Rica, Peru and Guatemala benefit from English lessons, medical and dental care services, the construction of infrastructure and assistance with sustainable farming projects, among other benefits.
Poverty in Latin America
According to the details of the Social Panorama 2022 report, at the end of 2022, about 201 million Latin Americans lived in conditions of poverty and 82 million Latin Americans endured conditions of extreme poverty.
In Costa Rica specifically, the most recent findings by the National Institute of Statistics and Census of Costa Rica (INEC) reported that, in 2022, almost 400,000 households endured poverty. Of these households, 110,631 endured extreme poverty. Peru has scarcely recovered from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with about 26% of the country experiencing poverty and another 4% experiencing extreme poverty as of 2021, the World Bank notes. In Guatemala, 2019 estimates indicated that more than half of the population has remained below the poverty line since 2014, says the World Bank.
Maximo Nivel’s exclusive focus on these countries directly improves living conditions and increases access to opportunities for those who need assistance the most. And this is all in a bid to end poverty in Latin America.
Maximo Nivel Volunteer Programs
- Working with Children: Poverty takes a toll on children’s education in many ways. For instance, impoverished children often do not get the familial support and attention needed to thrive academically, as parents usually have to focus on providing survival needs for the household. Maximo Nivel volunteers who choose the childcare program work in schools, community and daycare centers to give children the attention and care necessary for development and educational success. This includes working with children one-on-one, tutoring, organizing games and teaching proper hygiene practices.
- Teaching English: Learning to speak English can open the door to a multitude of career opportunities for impoverished individuals. Volunteers who teach English as a Second Language (ESL) classes bring this opportunity to students in Costa Rica, Peru and Guatemala, as these countries lack access to quality education. These free classes remove the disadvantage many students face compared to classmates that can afford private lessons.
- Providing Medical and Dental Care: The medical and health care programs organized by Maximo Nivel are open to licensed professionals, students in medical school and dental assistants. These specialized volunteers work in understaffed hospitals and dental clinics in especially vulnerable areas. Their contributions ensure local communities receive quality health care despite financial barriers.
- Constructing Communities: A Maximo Nivel foreman leads volunteers participating in the construction program on essential building projects. The volunteers may build homes, renovate schools to accommodate more children, update clinics or community centers and complete beautification projects. As stated on the Maximo Nivel website, volunteers not only “improve access to education and health care” but also “promote community solidarity.”
- Farming Sustainably: Poor working conditions and poverty persist for Latin American farmers despite the fact that more than 33% of the population relies on agriculture for income. Eco-agriculture projects encourage sustainable and more efficient methods of farming to reduce environmental impacts and increase yields and profitability for smallholder farmers. Maximo Nivel volunteers receive hands-on experience at macadamia, coffee, tea and cacao farms and harvest crops that benefit local communities.
The Power of Volunteerism
Maximo Nivel’s efforts suggest that volunteers can make a significant difference in developing countries. Poverty remains a massive issue across Latin America, but projects like those run by the organization promote hope and advance progress in communities facing the impacts of impoverishment.
– Rachel Rebecca Smith